Hey people, bring out the bunting – this is my 100th blog … Now I know we shouldn’t get too excited, it’s not like it’s Christmas, or even the Queen’s Speech or the budget, but it might just be a call for celebration …
It’s not as if it’s been a mad rush or anything – I first blogged in 2012 – but it’s been something of a revelation. When I first put blogging finger to keyboard, it was a kind of professional challenge. After many years of writing for research and policy people, I thought I’d take matters into my own hands, and see what happened if I blogged about the things that interested me for a wider audience. And I have had a lovely time ….
My background (as regular readers will know) is in stuff to do with gender and policy, and so I joined Mumsnet bloggers network and twitter, and began to publish. I soon confirmed my suspicion that policy stuff could find readers beyond fellow professionals. And so, I persisted. If I saw things that inspired me to write, and that I didn’t have an immediate outlet for at work, I’d blog. And, you know, things just grew from there …. I have a whole load of links, followers and feedback that would never have happened if I hadn’t.
For my 100th blog I thought it would be good to reflect on what has been most popular. There is, it seems to me, no formula for that: some blogs, you slave over the detail and they never make the mark; others that you write off the cuff work really well. Sometimes you meet the news agenda to no great avail, others you reflect on something days or weeks later, and it’s a hit. If I could identify the formula for guaranteed blogging success, I guess I’d be writing this blog from a tropical paradise, not somewhere in England …
When I looked up my Top 5 all-time most popular blogs, I could see elements they had in common. Most importantly, they were promoted more widely than I could ever achieve alone – if you want an audience, find it through sympathetic hosts, and in online conversations. Even if there’s a lot of crap out there, I’ve found a twitter community and a supportive platform – I’d like to think that anyone can.
And content-wise, my Top 5 taught me another lesson: for all that I’ve written over the past five years, the apple may not fall far from the tree. My most popular post is Silicon Valley Chickens and Women’s Eggs – as a wonk married to someone geeky, how technology affects relationships has always been up for discussion ; at number 2, A Cabinet of Curiosities is all about female representation in politics – a feature of much I’m engaged with professionally and personally; A Post-Truth Christmas Stocking is about the madness of 2016, which we wonks lived through with intensity; number four is Shared Parental Leave, all jacket no bike, including both the wisdom of one of my best friends, and the trouble with the model of shared parental leave we’ve gone for in the UK, which has figured large at work and at home; finally, number 5 is Out of kilt-er, my take on a poorly judged political broadcast in the last Indyref – Wonklifebalance is proudly Celtic ….
And so, I have concluded, your most popular blogs find you – I’ve written many others which looked fit for purpose, even hot to trot. But the very best – decided by readership – all have a wee bit of me inside them. Another lesson may be, that what goes around comes around: my very first blog was about the folly of a new yacht Britannia …. Thanks everyone for reading, I’ll carry on writing too …. next up blogging 101 😉